American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. The study of the shape and protuberances of the skull, based on the now discredited belief that they reveal character and mental capacity.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The theory that the mental powers of the individual consist of independent faculties, each of which has its seat in a definite brain-region, whose size is commensurate with the power of manifesting this particular faculty. This theory, which originated at the close of the eighteenth century, assumes, moreover, as an essential part, the plasticity of the cranial envelop, by which the skull conforms externally, in the nor mal subject, to the shape and configuration of the brain within, so that its form and faculties may be determined, with sufficient exactness, from the skull itself, whether in the skeleton or in the living person. The different powers of the mind or faculties are divided into two classes, the feelings and the intellect, or the affective and intellectual faculties, the former of which is again divided into the propensities and sentiments, the latter into the perceptive and reflective faculties. Each of these groups, as well as each of the individual faculties composing them, is located upon the exterior of the skull with more or less exactness, and it is by the prominence or depression of the different regions that the mental powers and faculties are ascertained. The system was founded by Dr. Franz Joseph Gall (1758–1828), a Viennese physician, and was extended and promulgated by his pupil and associate, Dr. Spurzheim, and by George and Andrew Combe and others. The term is sometimes applied, in the phrase new phrenology, to the localization of cerebral functions which has been established by experimental and pathological investigations, almost exclusively of the last twenty years, and which has reached such a degree of certainty and definiteness as to furnish a basis for surgical operations on the, brain. But there is nothing in common between modern cerebral localization and the views of Gall and Spurzheim. See cut in next column.
- n. Comparative psychology; the study of the mind, intellect, or intelligence of man and the lower animals.
- n. medicine, biology The science, now generally discredited, which studies the relationships between a person's character and the morphology (structure) of the skull.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. The science of the special functions of the several parts of the brain, or of the supposed connection between the various faculties of the mind and particular organs in the brain.
- n. In popular usage, the physiological hypothesis of Gall, that the mental faculties, and traits of character, are shown on the surface of the head or skull; craniology.
- n. a now abandoned study of the shape of skull as indicative of the strengths of different faculties
- From phreno- + -logy. (Wiktionary)
“Gallian system, and who are aware that my discoveries have thoroughly revolutionized as well as enlarged cerebral science, rendering the old term phrenology inadequate to express its present status.”
“I spoke of phrenology, he said, not with the object of criticising a system which has its good side, in so far as it tends to complete the series of physiological observations that aim at increasing our knowledge of man; I used the word phrenology because the only fatality that we believe in nowadays is that created by our own instincts.”
“A strong background in phrenology would aid the mission, he argued, because “you will not have to wait to learn their [the Chinese people’s] peculiarities.””
“Horace Mann called phrenology “the greatest discovery of the age.””
“For example, Dr. Mortimer, a man Holmes and Watson befriend and refer to as a fellow man of science, is an expert in phrenology.”
“In the early nineteenth century, Gall developed the notion of phrenology skull configuration and bumps reflecting underlying brain structure and made the first organized connection between brain and behavior.”
“He was likewise taken to Mr. Deville, a noted professor of the art called phrenology, who felt his head, carefully measuring all its bumps, and, having learnt Clare's name, informed him that he possessed all the swellings necessary to make verses.”
“ The summary of this distinguished lecturer's objections to phrenology is to be found in the Appendix to vol i. of "Lectures on Metaphysics," p. 404, et seq.”
“The son is a clever young man, and has read a good deal; pleasant, too, in society; but tampers with phrenology, which is unworthy of his father's son.”
“Lest you think I make too much of the rear end, note that the ancient Greeks apparently practiced a kind of phrenology of the keister, considering it the key to health and fidelity.”
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